Robb Recommends: Bentley & Cumbria Crystal’s AI console

The stunning sculpture is the focal point of the EXP 100 GT concept.

There’s more to sustainability than just the environment: ensuring the longevity of the nation’s artisanal skills is another responsibility we have, as custodians of the planet. This is the powerful message behind a concept vehicle, created to celebrate Bentley’s centenary, that’s also no slouch when it comes to ecological sustainability (Bridge of Weir, the leather house that provided the vehicle’s upholstery, is powered by an on-site plant which converts the 95 per cent raw hide waste that would normally become landfill into energy).

The most eye-catching of all the collaborative efforts involved with the EXP 100 GT, for our money, is that created over 10 months by the highly skilled glass designers, blowers and cutters at Cumbria Crystal. The seamlessly integrated AI hub, known as the Bentley Personal Assistant, allows users to make commands through hand gestures made to the front or rear interfaces: and, as the photos here reveal, it’s as impressive an aesthetic accomplishment as it is a technical one.

The sculpture is a coming together of an ancient form of craft and state-of-the-art engineering. “Making something by hand is phenomenally difficult – the tolerances, the variation you can get, is quite extreme,” says Chris Blade – Managing Director of the Lake District-based company, which has in the past produced champagne flutes for the Bentayga Mulliner and Continental GT, as well as tumbler and decanter sets for the Mulsanne W.O. Edition by Mulliner. “So part of the learning for both of us was like, ‘Well, how do I fulfil the brief for this? How do we modify and evolve the ideas so we retain the original concepts, but within the capabilities of hand-craftsmanship?’

“Bentley prides itself on working with the best luxury manufacturers around the UK and as the last producer of completely hand-blown and hand-cut crystal in England, we at Cumbria Crystal are truly honoured to be a part of this extraordinary milestone,” he adds. “The EXP 100GT epitomises true craftsmanship.”

We agree – emphatically.